A reading bug has spread through families who visit the Breakthrough Joshua Center. Throughout the day, many residents of East Garfield Park visit the second floor library, which opened last January. For a neighborhood that has long struggled with poverty, it is an important resource, an oasis to explore new things.

.What sticks out the most to me, and what I.m really excited to see, is that the majority of pre-school moms come to check out books to read to their children,. says Reading Specialist, Gynger Garcia. She refers to mothers who have young children enrolled in Breakthrough Beginners. .Before the library, we had a few books in a corner of their classroom. The new space is so much more accessible..

She continues, .It.s a beautiful, inviting space with lots of ambiance. There.s a whole wall of adult-style novels and inspirational books, which is very popular the ladies who stay here in our transitional housing program and mothers who have kids in our academic programs. In fact, the Beginners. moms often check out books for themselves, too..

During the regular school year, the library is a center of activity for the Nettie Bailey Student Achievement Program, as students participate in reading workshops, homework time, and language arts games and activities. Students who have completed their homework use their free time to read, as well.

Gynger adds that the space is used year around. .Over the summer, the library served as a homeroom for the 3rd-5th graders in our Summer Studies program. The K-2nd graders had their literacy time here, and the 7-8th graders used the space to build the scale model of a city for their Sims project..

The library sees activity nearly every day of the week. .The kids constantly check out books,. says Gynger. .They can.t get enough!.

Most of the library.s furnishings, push carts and books came from donations through a women.s group , who raised money and also donated their time to help renovate the space. .It.s amazing! We have so many books now,. says Gynger. .They.ve continued to donate books since that time, and we get other donations as well.. She adds that, while she wouldn.t turn away books, the current shelves are completely full.

Literacy is an important key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Breakthrough is thankful to have partners who volunteer and give financially to bring hope to our community.